Hard seltzer continues to take on many different forms. NÜTRL is a vodka seltzer brand that was released regionally in late 2021, and with its success (by what metric, I’m not sure), it has now been rolled out nationally. On paper, NÜTRL is not any different from most seltzers; the drink contains 4.5% alcohol, and 100 calories per can, which is a pretty standard build for most hard seltzers.
Every brand touts some kind of differentiator, whether it’s interesting flavors, like Flying Embers’ take on the bubbly stuff, or sort of a “buy this by an existing brand association” like Hallmark Channel seltzer and AriZona hard seltzer. NÜTRL’s selling point is that it’s flavored with real fruit juice, which isn’t a terribly unique angle (though some brands like Bud Light likes to take a decidedly artificial-flavoring lean). There are only four flavors, so I decided a flavor ranking was in order, because what the hell, who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned ranking?
Man, what the hell, why do people bother making “naturally-flavored” watermelon anything? Don’t get me wrong, watermelon is absolutely delicious, but as a fruit, it’s pretty plain, let’s not kid ourselves. It’s mostly very juicy, and sugary if you’re lucky. If you were to flavor a seltzer with plain watermelon juice it’d be boring as shit. I don’t know how, but NÜTRL managed to make this one taste slightly like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. Is that terrible? Not really, but when you compare this flavor next to the more natural-tasting ones, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
If you’re going to go for fruit-flavored seltzer, mango is a pretty safe bet, and sometimes it’s even my favorite. It seems like every hard seltzer brand has a mango-flavored version, like it’s some kind of legal obligation. In most cases mango is better than the other choices, but not so with NÜTRL, where others are just better overall. It’s a perfectly okay version of mango, just not remarkable.
When you think about raspberry-flavored drinks, you probably immediately imagine the fake stuff, which I love with zero shame. I can happily say, however, that NÜTRL’s raspberry seltzer tastes like real fruit, and that’s a good thing. It’s not super tart, but it is pretty lively in terms of berry flavor, and if you’re poking around in a variety pack and someone’s already taken all the pineapple (me), grab this one next.
It has been a very long time since I decided pineapple was the best flavor for anything. Well-chilled, this one is an absolute delight. I realize any kind of canned pineapple doesn’t hold a candle to the fresh stuff, but for a fruit, I always thought its flavor is preserved remarkably well. The same characteristic holds with its seltzer version. It’s crisp, very fresh-tasting, and I found myself cursing the fact that it’s not summer and I wasn’t sitting around drinking this outside. Although now that I’m thinking about it, nothing is actually stopping me.
At 4.5% ABV, all of these seltzers are really crushable. While 0.5% doesn’t seem like a big difference from your typical 5% ABV seltzer, it must be some kind of tipping point, because it mellows out the alcoholic aftertaste. If you dislike alcoholic beverages because of that taste, these may be up your alley. 4% seltzers almost taste too weak to me, so maybe 4.5% might just be Goldilocks.
One thing I also noticed while scouring the cans for details was that NÜTRL is an Anheuser-Busch-owned brand. Maybe this is proof that huge corporations do own everything, ugh. But if a product is good, it’s good. The pineapple, which I’m still thinking bout, does in fact come in a four pack, so if you see one, I’d grab it. If they’re still around this summer you’ll probably see me in line with one too.